After spending the night in "Chaos" during Harvey Mudd College’s pre-frosh weekend back in the mid-90s, Jason Fredrickson ’99 moved HMC to the top of his college choices.
Staying with four second-year students, who decided to share rooms, the visit was a combination of chaos and order. The Mudders moved their desks into one room called "Chaos" and their beds into another room called "Order."
“I slept about 90 minutes that night," recalls Fredrickson, who originally came to HMC wanting to be an engineer, but graduated as a physics major who did a lot of programming. “It’s the way they think at Harvey Mudd. It makes sense."
Mudd’s own brand of intellect is part of Fredrickson’s spiel as he searches for an alumni member to match the 2009 senior gift—cash toward an endowed scholarship.
“Harvey Mudd is unique as an institution,” Fredrickson says, comparing it to other colleges and high schools. He attended Greenhill High School in Texas, where he also gives. “They’re both great—but there are more places like Greenhill than Harvey Mudd.”
Fredrickson, who currently serves on the senior gift fund, networking and ad hoc committees of the Alumni Association Board of Governors, likes the personal touch of HMC.
“Harvey Mudd is more active with alumni,” he shares. “They reach out to us more. They know me by name and remember me. When I wasn’t working, they called for a donation. They said they would be happy to hear from me when I did have a job and asked, ‘Is there anything we can do?’”
That’s not the response he heard from other nonprofits that called for donations.
His own approach when asking students to give to the senior gift is to help them see the value of each dollar donated and how scholarships change a person’s life.
“Reach into your pocket,” he tells seniors. “I bet every one of you has a $5 bill. If 200 people in a class give $5, you have $1,000. That’s not bad. What about $10? And so on. You spend more than that on your cell phone.”
“I tell them, if I hadn't had financial aid, I don't know how I would have come to this school,” Fredrickson adds. “I ask them to think about what Harvey Mudd did for them.”
Fredrickson, who works in software development management, has committed to matching the Class of 2008’s donations for five years.
It was at Mudd that started his career in computer software. “I helped start a company during my senior year, during the dot-com bubble,” he says. “It was four years of a crash course in software development, accounting and management.”
Founded by two Mudders, one Pomona College student and a student from Scripps College, Horizon opened around Christmas 1998 and closed in spring 2003.
“I came out broke and desperate,” Fredrickson explains. Two weeks later, he landed a job in sales, but “it didn’t work out.”
Fredrickson went back to software and eventually landed at Guidance Software, where he still works today. The Pasadena-based company creates computer forensic tools to solve crimes committed with computers.
Though Fredrickson has explored different career paths, he stays steady on a single path regarding his HMC donations.
“With Harvey Mudd, I know where my money is going,” he says. “More importantly, I know who’s making the decisions regarding where it’s going. These people have made time to talk to me personally, and not because I’m donating massive amounts of money, but because they care.”